Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Christmas Homily

The Messiah is born, the Son of God, our Savior. He made himself a child to save us and enabled us to become holy. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in order to loosen us from the bonds of death. He came down to earth so that we could rise to heaven. He became poor in order that we could become rich in grace He had no place in the inn so that we could have mansions in heaven.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” Jesus is laid in a manger, the box from which the animals would eat their hay. This is a sign that one day he would give us his own flesh and blood to eat in the Eucharist. The newborn Child does not speak, but he is the Eternal Word of the Father, and even from the manger in Bethlehem he teaches us. The main lesson he teaches us is humility. God humbled himself to allow us to be close to him.

He is the Lord through whom all things came into being and are held in existence. There was no place for him at the inn and today the world refuses to give Christ his rightful place. We need to be among the few in our day who make a place for Jesus. Our hearts should provide Jesus with a place where he can be born spiritually. Through Baptism, we share the fruit of Christ’s work of redemption. We became adopted children of God, holy and pure in his sight. The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation, among others, help us to maintain our baptismal purity and the Sacrament of Penance helps us regain it if we’ve lost it.

Christ became a man to give us power to overcome our sinfulness. We couldn’t do it without him. But now if we cooperate with the graces he gives us we can become holy, we can avoid sin. The Church teaches that Jesus and Mary were conceived without original sin and never committed an actual sin. Jesus took on our human nature, not our sinfulness. You see that sin and death were not part of God’s plan. Satan introduced that by abusing his freedom and disobeying Almighty God. Jesus was tempted but he never sinned. You see, sin does not make us more lovable or approachable. Sin makes us less loving and more selfish. Sin is such a terrible thing that through it Adam and Eve lost paradise for themselves and all mankind. No human could have possibly made up for any sin he committed without Christ. Sin damages our relationship with God and each other. It delivers us into Satan’s power. The punishment due to sin is hell.

The shepherds understood the horror of sin and their own need for a savior. That is why they rejoiced in hearing the angel’s message: “I come to proclaim good news to you, tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people. This day in David’s city, a Savior has been born to you, the Messiah, the Lord!” The Lord has come not so that we can continue to commit sin after sin, but as St. Paul says: “The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope; the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

Note that he says “offer salvation.” An offer can be accepted or rejected. You might think why would anyone reject this offer? But many people do, either by refusing to believe in Jesus or by accepting Jesus with their lips and rejecting him by their actions. By stubbornly remaining in their sins and refusing to change their lives. By refusing to live according to his commandments.
What Jesus has done for us demands a response from us. He offers his love and mercy to us but we need to accept it and offer our love in return. He has done what he’s done to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for himself a people eager to do what is right.

Prepare a place for him in your heart this Christmas. Return to Jesus in the Sacrament of Confession. More than ever before make Christ the center of your life. Follow the teaching of His Church and be eager to do what is right. Then even in the midst of many troubles, you will be one of those to whom the message of the angels will apply: “Peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.” and you will be brought to the eternal joy and peace of the heavenly kingdom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Father, when I go to your blog from the bookmark on my computer, all it shows is the old post. When I access it via the link at "The Revolution" (Mary Worthington's blog) I see your latest post of December 21, 2005.